Feds raid Chicago operation linked to Detroit body parts business

Feds raid Chicago operation linked to Detroit body parts business

Feds raid Chicago operation linked to Detroit body parts business

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House hearing Thursday to focus on how parents are exploiting financial aid loophole

House hearing Thursday to focus on how parents are exploiting financial aid loophole

Two Illinois House committees will hold a joint hearing today in Chicago on the subject of wealthy parents who put their teenage children into guardianship to qualify for financial aid. It remains to be seen whether any of the attorneys or parents involved in that practice will show up to testify.

But even if they don’t, Rep. LaShawn Ford, a Chicago Democrat who chairs the House committee that deals with funding higher education, said he hopes the hearing itself will deter other parents from trying to exploit the system.


“Bringing awareness to the issue should deter it in a big way,” Ford said Wednesday.

The issue came to light in a story published July 29 by the nonprofit investigative news organization ProPublica Illinois.

Reporters had found dozens of cases of parents in Lake County who had petitioned a court to place their children in the custody of guardians — often a family friend or relative — so their children could declare themselves financially independent and thereby qualify for student financial aid, including grants from the state’s Monetary Award Program grants.

Ford said he and other lawmakers had consulted with attorneys who advised them there was nothing illegal about the practice. But he said it raises a number of “moral” issues because the MAP program has limited funding available, and typically as many as 80,000 applicants per year are denied grants because there is not enough funding to go around.

“I think the families may not understand the harm that they’re doing,” Ford said. “I don’t know if they morally knew that they were robbing another student of the opportunity to go to college.”


Ford’s committee will meet jointly with the House Higher Education Committee in a hearing set to begin at 10 a.m. in the Michael A. Bilandic Building in Chicago.

According to an agenda that Ford provided, the hearing will involve four panels representing the University of Illinois, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, other public universities and the Partnership for College Completion.

Ford said the committees had considered issuing subpoenas for representatives from law firms involved in the guardianship arrangements, as well as parents who had taken advantage of the process. But he said that process would have taken considerable time, so the committees instead invited those people to testify. As of Wednesday afternoon, he said, none had said they would attend.

Published at Wed, 07 Aug 2019 22:56:21 +0000

Real Life Trick Shots 2 | Dude Perfect

Real Life Trick Shots 2 | Dude Perfect

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‘Feeding frenzy’ makes Illinois fair favorites affordable

‘Feeding frenzy’ makes Illinois fair favorites affordable

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois State Fair will offer daily discounts on fair-food favorites this year with its “feeding frenzy.”

Dozens of food vendors will participate by dropping prices on vinegar fries, cheese curds, lemon shake-up drinks and more from 2 to 5 p.m. each day of the fair.


The state fair runs from Aug. 8-18.

Kevin Gordon is Illinois State Fair manager. He says the fair should be “affordable and accessible to everyone.” He says the promotion should alleviate costs for customers and increase business for vendors.

Fairgoers will be alerted to the day’s feeding frenzy 15 minutes before it starts with the theme from the hit 1970s shark-attack movie “Jaws” playing over the loud speaker.

Face-stuffing time will end 15 minutes after the theme song plays again.

Published at Tue, 06 Aug 2019 08:47:00 +0000

After years of inattention, state parks getting maintenance

After years of inattention, state parks getting maintenance

DIXON SPRINGS, Ill. — Parks around Illinois are seeing a flurry of maintenance activity after years of inattention due to a state budget standoff.

An indication of the sprucing up of Illinois’ parks is at the Dixon Springs State Park swimming pool in southern Illinois, which has received a new slide.


Site superintendent Chris McGinness tells the Southern Illinoisan the pool dates to the 1940s. It was redone in the 1980s, and the slide replaced this year was about 40 years old.

The roughly $175,000 pool renovation project included upgrades to the chemical monitoring system.

Beyond the pool area, cabins and barracks in the park have been refurbished, along with a kitchen and dining hall. Workers have repaired 50 picnic tables.

McGinness says every picnic table in Dixon Springs is expected to be redone.


Information from: Southern Illinoisan, http://www.southernillinoisan.com

Published at Mon, 05 Aug 2019 11:43:00 +0000

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‘Dying California’ Drone Footage Highlights Homeless Crisis

‘Dying California’ Drone Footage Highlights Homeless Crisis

A Los Angeles man is giving the world a bird’s-eye view over some of the region’s homelessness encampments by deploying a drone in the hopes that it will light a fire under residents and council members and inspire change.

“It’s a little scary even to see from the air,” said Johnny Perez, the drone pilot who runs the @dyingcalifornia Instagram account. “It’s just encampment after encampment.”

Perez shot the drone video and shared it in the hopes that — as he says — the squeaky wheel will get the grease.

“It’s encampments of 20-plus, 30-plus tents, and chop shops for bikes,” he said. “It’s their home I guess, but it’s not right!”

In a video he posted a week before, the footage shows a sprawling encampment near the Northridge mall that sits above the LA River, and down below, trash that teeters on a health hazard.

He said he’d hoped to get a group of people angry and “pissed off” at council members, and maybe they’d do something.

The Bureau of Sanitation said the property belongs to Metro and falls under their jurisdiction.

In another location, Perez wonders where the refuse that’s left behind is going. 

“I can see the trash from the air but I don’t know what’s in there. I can only imagine whatever they produce — people use the restroom, drug use,” he said. “That same Chatsworth wash connects with the river by Griffith Park which is what the mayor promotes for kayaking. It’s the same river, man. I don’t want to go kayaking.”

The Bureau of Sanitation said area near the Chatsworth wash is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Recreation and Parks, and Recreation and Parks will be leading a cleanup at the beginning of August, with LA Sanitation providing support.

A third location Perez shot is just off the 405 Freeway north of Burbank Boulevard and Oxnard Street. The NBCLA I-Team has had its eye on this spot for more than a month, and the growing trash pile the city has yet to clean up.

“The regular people and the taxpayers are losing,” Perez said.

Perez said that’s the reason he started “Dying California” on social media platforms. From his vantage point, he says the solution is simpler than anyone is letting on.

“Just enforce the laws, enforce parking laws, enforce vehicle dwelling laws,” he said. “Enforce trash and littering laws. Just irritate them. Either it will force them out or they’ll stop.”

The Bureau of Sanitation said staff sample and test Los Angeles River water twice a week at three locations in each of the Los Angeles River Recreation Zones — the area where it starts, the middle, and the end of each zone. Water quality results can be viewed at this site. 

Mayor Eric Garcetti has called the homeless crisis a national emergency that requires federal action. The Democratic mayor proposed an unlikely political partnership earlier this month when he called on President Trump to help take on the crisis.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Figures released in June showed a 16 precent jump in Los Angeles’ homeless population over the last year, pegging it at 36,300 — the size of a small city. The jump came after the mayor helped convince voters in 2016 to borrow $1.2 billion to construct housing for the homeless.

After the report’s release, Phil Ansell, who runs the county’s homeless initiative, said that in a growing economy rental rates have outpaced wages, particularly for people living at the margins and making minimum wage. Officials have said more needs to be done to increase the supply of affordable housing and prevent more families from becoming homeless. 

Published at Tue, 30 Jul 2019 17:13:41 +0000

Mario Lopez Walks Back Remarks on Kids and Gender Identity

Mario Lopez Walks Back Remarks on Kids and Gender Identity

Mario Lopez apologized Wednesday for telling conservative commentator Candace Owens that it’s “dangerous” and “alarming” for parents to honor the wishes of young children who identify with a gender other than the one assigned at birth.

The longtime “Extra” host, who recently was named a host of “Access Hollywood,” said in a statement released by his publicist that his remarks were “ignorant and insensitive.” Lopez said the backlash has brought on a “deeper understanding” of how “hurtful” his remarks were.

He outraged many when he told Owens on her PragerU YouTube show that, like Owens, he is “blown away” when parents tolerate very young children who make gender determinations at such a ripe age.

Lopez may be best known for starring in the teen sitcom “Saved by the Bell.”

Published at Wed, 31 Jul 2019 18:39:48 +0000




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